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Discussion: Suunto Ambit 3 issues

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Dec 3, 2019 7:24 PM # 
I've been seeing a lot of ads recently from Suunto for 60% discounts on the Ambit 3 Peak. Might seem worth the money at this point.

I purchased one this past summer to replace my broken Garmin 325xt.

Was relatively happy until I switched from Android to iOS.

The watch itself seems pretty solid, but it definitely takes some time to configure all of the modes and displays. My only significant complaint is that it's easy to accidentally push the stop button.

The HR strap was defective on arrival. Suunto sent a new one after analyzing the data in my MC account. 4 months later, the new strap (or pod) is acting up. Spikes HR to 190 for the first 5 - 10 minutes of every run, no matter what I do to prep it.

The apps for interfacing with the watch are a different story. I always thought Garmin Connect was bad, but Suunto has taken 'bad' to a new level. They have TWO apps. Neither works especially well.

The old app, Movescount (MC) is clunky, but it does work.
The new app, Suunto (S), is clunky too. Currently, data syncing only works on Android.
The two apps are incompatible. Suunto says you should not have both on the phone at the same time.

The Ambit watches have been labeled as a "legacy platform" by Suunto. As a "legacy platform" they are not fully supported in the new app (and won't be). Additionally, the MC app has been officially discontinued. At some point this month (December) the MC app will be removed from the App stores.

MC has functionality to configure and interact with the watch. S does not. This isn't a huge problem once you get the watch set up, but without MC it's a pain to make changes.

AP *is* able to automatically pull workouts directly from the Suunto app which is nice. MC requires manual transfer, afaik.


A few weeks ago, I switched from Samsung to an iPhone 11. While I can pair the watch to the iPhone, the Suunto app won't sync any data. Suunto support have acknowledged that it's a known problem, but so far no fix.
Dec 3, 2019 8:36 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
It seems you have the same problem as my son: He just switched jobs, and his new employer is forcing him to switch from Android to iPhone. :-(

This is making everything quite a bit harder and/or more expensive. :-(
Dec 3, 2019 11:46 PM # 
In case it helps, you can also setup MC to push to S, which will then push to AP.
Dec 4, 2019 12:07 AM # 
There is a way to lock out the buttons to prevent accidental pushes. I haven't done it recently but it involves pressing and holding one of the buttons, I think maybe the middle one.
Dec 4, 2019 2:00 AM # 
Bottom right button
Dec 5, 2019 1:51 PM # 
Re HR spikes: This is probably a long shot, but are you sure it's a measurement error? I occasionally see this, too, and when I stop and feel my pulse, it's really that high.
Someone somewhere (TM) claimed this is a result of insufficient warm-up, where muscle capillaries are still narrow so muscles are in the anaerobic regime even during relatively light workouts, and as a result the body goes into stress and raises the heart rate. Once muscles are warmed up, HR drops to "normal" values rather abruptly.
Dec 5, 2019 2:01 PM # 
Ambit's strap is known to do such spikes especially during first 10 mins, especially if it isn't soaking wet. Common resolution is replacing it with Polar's strap (just the strap part, not the hr pod).
Dec 5, 2019 8:27 PM # 
My old Garmin strap did the same. New(er) one does not. The fix on the older one was a tiny dot of electrode gel on each of the contact points.
Dec 7, 2019 2:23 PM # 
The lock button works but it also locks the light button. Not a big issue. I could also put the watch on my right wrist then it would be the lap button, but old habits die hard.

HR strap -
I didn’t know that about warmup. I normally expect and do see a modest spike when I start running, maybe +10 bpm. But I think this specific prob is the strap or pod. Manual hr measure doesn’t corroborate and if I stop moving hr spike drops instantly. Similar prob with Garmin. Getting strap wet fixed for me most of time. Soaking Suunto strap hasn’t helped. Haven’t tried gel.
I mistakenly bought a polar strap several years ago trying to fix garmin strap issues and couldnt use it. Have to see if it’s in a drawer somewhere.
Dec 7, 2019 11:26 PM # 
Off topic...
I could be mistaken, but my sense is that people tend to stick with the OS of the first smartphone they get. I chose Android simply because, at the time (2011), the non-iPhone had more megapixels than the iPhone. No regrets though.

@Terje: Couldn't you keep your Android phone for personal use?

@bill_l: Why did you switch?
Dec 8, 2019 2:36 AM # 
The lock button works but it also locks the light button.

Hmm, not on either of my Ambit3 watches.
Dec 8, 2019 4:37 AM # 
That's interesting. It does lock out the light button on mine.
Dec 8, 2019 4:57 AM # 
Huh! I've used that feature a lot in overnight trail runs where I lock the watch right after I start to make sure I don't accidentally turn it off. These Ambit3s both came directly from Suunto about 18 months apart; the newer one is a year old. Not sure if that provides any clues.

The instructions say it's supposed to work but I see there are some different Modes you can set. FWIW both of my watches have Mode = Normal.
Dec 8, 2019 12:11 PM # 
There is also General - Tones/display - Button lock - Time mode which you can set to "Actions only". Then the light is not locked. I think the same can be set for sport mode as well.
Dec 8, 2019 1:13 PM # 
Ah, that sounds like the one!
Dec 9, 2019 1:15 PM # 
@Jagge: I have observed such spikes in the past, and they turned out to be real; so since then, I have just assumed that they're all real. Prompted by this thread, I've re-checked again today (HR around 170 when ~130 would be expected), and counted 20 beats in 10s. The measured value would drop rapidly whenever I stopped, but not that rapidly, so I guess I'll start looking for a Polar strap.
Dec 11, 2019 2:54 AM # 
@igor_: nailed it! Mine was set to "All Buttons". Thanks!!

@GuyO: I agonized over the switch for several weeks. have had android since the samsung galaxy first came out. Most recent choice was between the note10+ and apple. Was forced to decide because several apps needed for work were not supported on my old Note 4. Price was equiv. I was tired of the Samsung + AT&T crapware and the AT&T os update schedule - or lack thereof!. Both my kids, and most people I work with have iPhones, being on the same ecosystem has its benefits. It's taken a little getting used to. In the end, I like it but I'm not blown away by it.
Dec 15, 2019 1:29 PM # 
Jagge, which Polar strap are you recommending? Polar Soft Strap? Polar Pro Soft Strap? Looking at Amazon reviews I'm finding both happy users of each as well as people complaining of spikes like here. Some saying that quality has decreased over time because their older Polar strap never did this, or didn't wear out as quickly, etc.

Hugh, is your Garmin strap compatible with Suunto transmitter? (contacts 45 mm / 1.75" separation)

I'm a big fan of the Scosche optical arm strap, but it's inconvenient in the winter with multiple layers of clothing so I usually go back to the chest strap then.
Jan 6, 2020 8:50 PM # 
Are there Polar strapssensors with different contact separations? I've somewhat cursorily looked for iformation on this, and finding none, assumed they must be all equal. However, the one I got for christmas doesn't fit my Suunto sensor.

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